The Most Effective Home Remedies For Cold, Fever and Cough In Kids
- Antibiotics and medication are often given unnecessarily and can do more harm than good.
- Bacterial infections are the only time an antibiotic should be used.
- Viral infections like a cold that isn't causing your child distress can be treated at home with home remedies.
Home remedies are often the best course of treatment for your children. Common colds, flu, fever, and coughs all have safe home remedies that are effective and far safer than medication. At the first sign of illness, many parents rush to the doctor, but you should know the truth. This article will explain all you need to know about taking care of your child in a way that truly heals instead of harming.
When To Rush To The Doctor
Not all doctors are equal. Some might test your child - blood, urine, etc, to confirm if it is a bacterial infection and then prescribe antibiotics. Some doctors can judge just by looking at the symptoms but other doctors will just prescribe antibiotics which are harmful in the long-term. The worst part is that you are feeling awful because your kid is uncomfortable. As a mother, I am telling you that you will always have doubts if you are doing best for your baby or your baby needs medical attention.
I have been in this situation many times. But the information that I am about to give you, is very important because this will help you take the right decision and according to my experience, sometimes kids get relief in one day only. The best approach is to give yourself a time limit. For example, if my baby won't be showing recovery symptoms in the next "X" days, I am going to visit the doctor.
What You Need To Know About Antibiotics
Antibiotics are often prescribed unnecessarily. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections and not viral infections. Common illnesses like colds and flu are caused by viruses. Antibiotics are often prescribed for fever, but the fever that accompanies colds and flu is therefore also not bacterial, but viral. The problem with antibiotics is that it has long-lasting effects. It works by destroying all bacteria, both good and bad, to get rid of the bacterial infection. The good bacteria in the gut is one of the things that fight off illnesses.
Many children are given antibiotics every year so the gut never has a proper chance to gain optimal levels of good bacteria. Another major problem is that many strains of bacteria are becoming resistant, and some are already resistant, to antibiotics. In order for this to happen the bacteria needs to be exposed to antibiotics. When you are treating the wrong things with antibiotics and using it so often this increases the chances of bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics.
When To See The Doctor
It can be hard to tell whether something is viral or bacterial because the symptom can be so similar. If your child is showing symptoms beyond a normal cold or flu or the symptoms are severe then it's best to get tests done. Here are some signs of a possible bacterial infection:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Rashes or blisters, they may be painful as well
- A fever over 38.8°C or 102°F
- Fever that lasts more than 2 days
- Ear infection
- Painful eyes
- Green nasal discharge
- Yellow or green phlegm
- Strep throat (small red spots on the roof of the mouth, painful throat, fever, swollen tonsils, headache and sometimes vomiting)
- Your child doesn't get better and it's been two weeks and New symptoms start showing up during a cold
- It hurts to urinate
- Your child is in distress
Another sign to look out for is if his or her fever has broken after giving an anti-fever medicine but they still appear sick. Normally when the fever goes down your child should be looking more like his or her usual self, not still feeling ill.
Go to the Doctor Immediately if:
- If your baby is under 3 months old and has a fever
- Your child is having seizures. Don't panic here. This can happen due to very high temperature. Just cool your kids' body and take to the emergency room.
- Your child's fever is rising very quickly instead of gradually (A low fever that is high by the evening is normal but quicker than that needs medical attention)
- Your child's fever is over 39.4°C or 103°F
- Your child is having trouble breathing
- Their neck is stiff
- They won't eat or drink, or can't keep any food or drink down. This can lead to dehydration.
If my kid won't eat or drink, I have a hack for it. I use a vitamin C and zinc grape sugar powder. The grape sugar acts as glucose and vitamin c and zinc helps in immunity of the baby. She loves the taste. Try that. I know sugar is not the best thing to give the baby in the illness, but what to do if the kid is not eating at all.
When To Use Medication
Though it's common for kids to be given medication, especially if they have a fever, the cases that actually warrant medication are few and far in between. Even common medications for kids ibuprofen and acetaminophen can do more harm than good. It was found that acetaminophen, in particular, was incredibly easy to overdose on and has to be used under very strict supervision. Ibuprofen when used for long periods or if used constantly can cause problems with the lining of the stomach.
The problem with these medicines is that they often get in the way of the body's own defense mechanisms against infections which stops the body from naturally healing itself. They lower the antibodies produced by the body to kill the viruses. Many of the other drugs given to children have not even been proven to be safe for children because very few studies are carried out on medications for children. Though as Dr. Mercola points out, often even though studies have been done, the side effects outweigh the benefits of the medications.
There are of course illnesses that do require medical treatment, but medications should only be used if your child is sick enough to justify using them and when it is the best course of action. When my baby is really not feeling well and is restless and in pain I use paracetamol. She recently turned one and I find that a low dose of 75 mg works well.
Important: Bacterial infections are often more serious than viruses and most do not get better without the use of medication.
Allergies In Kids
Allergies can sometimes like colds. For example, hay fever symptoms often include a runny nose and post-nasal drip which can lead to a sore throat and cough, and red eyes. Sometimes allergies can show up as a rash. The biggest indication is that allergies will not cause a fever. It is possible for your child to be sick and allergies at the same time. The symptoms will remain after the fever. Your child will also appear to be sick very often.
Avoidance of the triggers would be best, but in the case that this is not possible, antihistamines may be necessary. The doctor should run tests (blood or urine) before giving any antibiotics, it is very important to insist on this.
When To Stick To Home Remedies
Common colds, fever, and cough that are not severe are definitely better treated by home remedies. You can support the body's own defenses and help it to heal itself.
Home Remedies For Colds
Here are home remedies for symptoms of colds:
1. Runny Nose
A runny nose is the body's way of getting rid of a virus. One of the best things you can do for your child is to have them blow their nose or in the case of babies who can't blow their nose yet, using a nasal aspirator. Be sure to use a clean tissue each time and clean the aspirator after each use. Using any medicines that dry up mucus can be harsh and over-dry the nasal passages and mouth causing discomfort and even inflammation and stops the body from clearing the virus. Make sure your child drinks lots of fluids and stays away from sugar to prevent congestion.
2. Stuffy Nose/ Congestion
Congestion is more of a problem and can often spread to the chest. Whether it's just a stuffy nose or a congested chest too, here are some things you can do:
- Saline Nasal Spray Or Nose Drops: This will help to break up the mucus and make it easier to blow out or to use a nasal aspirator.
- Try To Have Your Child Sleep Upright: This will make it easier to breathe if they have a congested chest
- Steam: Steam helps to clear congestion. A steamy shower can steam up the whole bathroom creating a steam room (rub some vapor rub on his or her chest) or you can heat water and have them inhale the steam from a bowl or pot. Adding a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the steam will help too. 10-15 minutes is best.
- Humidifier: Preferably one that releases warm vapour (also called a vaporizer) will help with congestion at night. It will also keep the nasal passages from drying out.
- Lemon Juice And Honey: Lemon juice is a natural decongestant and raw or manuka honey has antibacterial properties. Don't give honey to babies under 1 year. Giving your child a few spoons of warm lemon juice and honey every few hours will help to take care of the congestion. You may want to avoid it if your child has a sore throat though as it can aggravate it.
- Honey, Cayenne Pepper, And 2 Drops Of ACV: Cayenne pepper is very good for congestion. Not all children will be willing to eat cayenne pepper, but it's ideal for children who like spicy foods.
- Vapor Rub: Using a vapor rub can help with congestion. Rub it on your child's back, neck, chest. I put lavender oil (to calm her) or Vicks vapor rub on my baby's feet when she has a stuffy nose. Remember to cover your baby's feet with socks after applying the vapor rub.
- You can make a pouch of dry roasted garlic and ajwain (carom seeds). Frequent rubbing of this pouch on baby’s chest or under feet can help to reduce the congestion levels. Each time you use this pouch just heat it on a pan.
Vapour Rub Ingredients
1/2 cup olive oil, coconut oil, or almond oil 2 level tablespoons of beeswax pastilles 4 drops of Eucalyptus Oil 4 drops Fir Essential Oil (peppermint oil can be used for older children)
Vapour Rub Instructions
- Melt beeswax with oil of choice in a double boiler until just melted.
- Add the essential oils
- Stir until well mixed and pour into some type of container with a lid to store. Small tins work well, as do little jars. I also always make a few in lip chapsticks to keep in my purse or to use on baby feet.
- Use as needed to help reduce coughing and congestion.
Hydration Is Very Important
Staying hydrated helps to thin the mucus. If you are giving your child lemon juice it can be dehydrating, so it's very important to give him or her adequate fluids. If your baby is still young, keep on breastfeeding, your breast milk is designed to be the perfect food and drink. The formula can also still be given if your baby is young and on formula.
In my baby´s formula water, I add a little coconut oil and a pinch of turmeric. Make sure do not overdo on coconut oil if your baby is not used to eating coconut oil. Water and herbal teas also work really well for children over 6 months of age.
Safe Herbal Teas For Mucus And To Fight Colds:
- Mullein: Mullein is a great tea for getting rid of mucus in children. It works by soothing inflammation and loosening the phlegm, so it's best to keep your child upright if you are giving them mullein teas.
- Licorice: Licorice also loosens mucus and is helpful for fevers too. Be sure to give your child no more than 4-5 g per day or use it for extended periods. If you do need to take your child to the doctor for whatever reason, tell your doctor about the licorice just to make sure it doesn't interact with any medications that may be given.
- Elderberry: Elderberry is great for fighting colds and flu since it has anti-viral properties and is very safe for children.
- Chamomile: Chamomile helps to soothe and calm your child and has anti-inflammatory properties so it helps for pain and fever too. It also helps them to digest food better which is helpful during fever.
Foods That Clear Congestion
- Turmeric: Turmeric has anti-viral properties and is an antiseptic. Its anti-inflammatory properties help swelling go down in the nasal passages and sinuses making it easier to get rid of congestion. You can give it to your child with honey, or if the baby is still on breast milk or formula, add a pinch to that and give it to him or her.
- Honey: Honey makes things taste a little better in addition to its health benefits.
- Chicken: Chicken contains cysteine which is an amino acid that helps to clear congestion by thinning the mucus.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: It helps the body to fight off infections and bacteria. It also helps thin mucus. It can be diluted in some tea or warm water with honey. You can also add it to the vaporizer or humidifier to clear congestion.
- Pineapple: Pineapples help to loosen phlegm and fights infections, bacteria, and inflammation. Do not give too much of it because it's high in sugar.
- Omega 3 Fatty acids: Omega 3 also reduces inflammation. It's found in cold-water fish, nuts, eggs, fish oil, cod oil and flaxseed.
- Garlic: Garlic is a quite amazing food. It helps to relieve congestion and other cold symptoms. It also has antiviral and antibacterial properties.
- Soup: Chicken soup is full of healthy minerals that boost health. If you are vegetarian, vegetable soups are great too. You can prepare mixed vegetable soups that include carrots and beetroot.
Foods To AvoidThese all worsen congestion:
- Dairy products
- Potatoes and other starchy root vegetables
Fever is the body's way of fighting off infections. Between 38.8 to 39.4°C or 102 to 103°F is the optimum temperature for the body to release white blood cells and antibodies that fight off illnesses. As long as the fever isn't rising too quickly or higher than 38.8°C or 102 °F, you should support the fever by using natural remedies instead of medication.
It's advised to get children to the doctor if their fever is at 39°C or 102.2°F. If the doctor has ruled out a bacterial infection, it's still best to treat it naturally unless it can't be healed without the use of medication. You will be able to tell from your child's behaviour as well whether you should be getting them to the doctor. Many children are fine with a temperature at this level.
How To Treat A Fever
Avoid giving your child medicines that can harm and instead use these home remedies that assist the body in healing:
- Remove Unnecessary Blankets And Clothing: This will keep your child from overheating. They will feel much more comfortable as well.
- Fluids Are Important: Your child needs to stay hydrated. If you are still breastfeeding, that's fine, mother's milk has antibodies in it that will help fight the infection too. A formula is also good. Water and herbal teas are great for older children. You may need to add electrolytes if your child is sweating a lot since a lot of electrolytes are lost during sweating.
- Broth-Based Soups: When your child has a fever, the body is concentrating on fighting the illness, so do not feed him or her food that is hard to digest. Soups are a great way to replenish electrolytes and give their little bodies energy. They are also much easier to digest.
- Catnip: Catnip supports the fever by causing the body to sweat more. This helps to get rid of the illness.
- Sponge Your Child Down: Take a sponge with lukewarm water and gently wipe down your child's body. This will help your little one cool down.
- Rest: Rest is important. Your child's body is working hard to fight off the illness and it isn't a good idea to keep them busy during this time. The body needs to be able to direct all its attention to healing.
4. Natural Remedies for Cough
Coughing is never nice and the fact is that many of the cough mixtures on the market do not actually work. Your child's body can do without those medicines. Natural remedies offer relief that is safe and effective. If your child has some congestion, you can use the remedies for it because often coughing is caused by congestion. Just bear in mind that coughing clears the lungs of phlegm, so it isn't always best to stop a cough unless it keeps your child from sleeping.
Remember to position them slightly upright if they have congestion. Here are some other remedies for cough:
- Holy Basil (Tulsi): Holy basil is very effective for soothing and healing all kinds of respiratory problems including coughing. You can make a paste out of it or boil some leaves in water to make a tea. It's also anti-viral and anti-bacterial.
- Honey: If your child is one year old and up, then honey is one of the best things to give him or her for coughs and colds in general. It has even been shown to be as effective as cough medicines. It can also soothe a sore throat.
- Garlic: Garlic can soothe coughs just like it can help with the congestion. It also acts as a natural antibiotic and as long as it isn't taking in large doses (bigger than 3-10 g) it will not affect the good bacteria in the gut. Despite this, eating foods with probiotics after the illness leaves is recommended.
- Okra: Okra can help children that are older than a year with congestion and sore or scratchy throats. Just cut up one piece of okra and boil in some water to make a tea.
- Peppermint Tea: Giving peppermint tea to your child will soothe a sore throat. Peppermint has a calming and inflammatory effect.
- Saltwater: Gargling with salt water relieves a sore throat and can help to kill the germs. This is better suited to older children who are able to gargle.
How To Calm Your Child
Children can become fussy when they aren't feeling well or when they aren't comfortable. Here are a few tips to calm them:
Let Your Baby Sleep On Your Chest:This will also keep them elevated if they have congestion.
Chamomile Tea:Chamomile is known to be soothing and relaxing.
Lavender Oil:Lavender has been used to calm children and adults alike for many years. You can rub some lavender oil on their feet (you may have to dilute it with a bit of coconut oil) or you can put some in the humidifier.
Lemon Balm Tea:Lemon balm is also very soothing.
Catnip:Catnip relaxes tired and stressed little bodies.
Thymus Tap:Doing a thymus tap can help to calm your child when he or she is feeling stressed or fussy and it can also build up their immune system.
Boost Your Child's Immune System
- Healthy Diet: A healthy diet with a wide variety of vegetables is the first thing you can do to boost their immune system.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C strengthens the immune system. While sick, children under 5 years can have 250 mg and older children 500 mg
Zinc:Zinc is also important to build a healthy immune system. Kids under 4 can take 5 mg of zinc and older children can have 10 mg.
Here is a supplement that helps to build your child's immune system and does not contain sugar but is still delicious: Thompsons Children's Lozenges If you get a cold or flu, here are some remedies for adults.
- Signs of bacterial infection: diarrhoea, stiff neck, yellow or green phlegm, new symptoms keep appearing or symptoms do not go away after the fever goes down.
- Get your child to the doctor immediately if they are struggling to breathe, have a very high temperature, they can't eat or drink, or have seizures.
- For a runny nose, have your child blow their nose or use a nasal aspirator.
- For congestion, give lots of fluids, keep your child upright, lemon is a natural decongestant for children older than 12 months. Steam and vapor rub helps as well.
- For fever, remove extra clothing, keep your child hydrated and add electrolytes to their drinks.
- For coughs, holy basil, garlic, and okra are effective. Honey works well for children older than 12 months, gargling with salt water eases sore throats for older children.
- The best herbal teas to use during colds are elderberry, chamomile, catnip, lemon balm, mullein, and licorice.